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Stephiney Foley
Stephiney Foley

Would you rather?

📢 What type of manager would you rather have? 🤔 And what type of manager do you aspire to be? 💼 Let’s explore this using a two-by-two matrix of "Competence" and "Likability" 

After spending more than a decade delving into the intricacies of leadership, being a good leader goes beyond simply having a title. It's about embodying certain qualities and effectively managing people. One leader who left a lasting impression on me is GEN Colin Powell, whose experiences I closely studied during my time at the United States Military Academy at West Point (Probably because of our shared ties New York City and military service). In his memoir, "My American Journey," GEN Powell aptly stated,

“Leadership is about solving problems. The day your people stop bringing you their problems is the day that they have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.

These words resonated with me, highlighting two fundamental aspects of leadership: competence and likability.

  1. Likability refers to the degree to which a leader is seen as approachable, relatable, and pleasant to work with. It is about being well-liked and having positive interactions with others in a professional setting. Likability encompasses traits such as friendliness, empathy, good communication skills, and a positive attitude.
  2. Competence refers to the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively perform the tasks and responsibilities associated with the role. A competent leader demonstrates expertise in their field, possesses a deep understanding of their organization or industry, and is capable of making informed decisions.

Now, let's explore the four archetypes that emerge from the combination of competence and likability:

1.The Guiding Luminary (High Competence/High Likability)

This is the epitome of an ideal manager we all aspire to have or become. The Guiding Luminary encompasses both competence and kindness, fostering a harmonious and productive work environment. They possess a deep understanding of their role and can effectively guide the team towards success. Their approachability and empathy create a culture of trust, empowerment, and growth.

2. The Supportive Companion (Low Competence/ High Likability)

This manager means well and creates a friendly atmosphere, but their lack of competence undermines the team's progress. While they may be well-liked, their inability to effectively lead and guide the team can result in inefficiencies and missed opportunities. Ultimately, a team needs more than just a pleasant demeanor to succeed.

3. The Ruthless Taskmaster (High Competence/ Low Likability)

This manager possesses the skills and knowledge needed for the job, but their abrasive behavior can create a hostile work environment. While they may achieve results in the short term, their approach often leads to low team morale and a negative culture. The constant tension and fear of retribution stifle innovation and collaboration.

4. The Destructive Bungler (Low Competence/Low Likability)

This type of manager brings frustration and confusion to the team. Their lack of competence in their role makes it difficult for the team to achieve their goals. Their mean-spirited behavior creates a toxic work environment, eroding morale and stifling creativity. This type of manager is a recipe for dissatisfaction and high turnover.

The two axes of the matrix represent likability and competence. While likability plays a crucial role in leadership, it is important to note that competence is equally vital. People are more likely to follow a leader they like and respect, but a leader also needs the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their role and earn trust and respect.

Likeability vs Competence 2x2

The ultimate goal for any leader should be to reside in the top left quadrant of the matrix. However, it is important to acknowledge that there is no universally perfect leadership style. The most effective leadership approach varies depending on the situation and the organization being led. What works for one team or organization may not work for another. For example, leading Soldiers in Combat might require a ruthless taskmaster because a taskmaster may be able to get the team to focus and get the job done (or Steve Jobs at the beginning of running Apple, but not many of us are Steve Jobs). Therefore in most cases likability is critical. For example, if a team is working on a long-term project, a nice guy may be able to build relationships and keep the team motivated.

So, which type of manager would you rather have? Remember, competence and kindness can go hand in hand, and the best leaders inspire greatness by empowering their teams. Let's foster a culture of excellence and collaboration, one manager at a time. 👥💪